Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign âaidâ organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet's natural resources. Their tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs, extortion, sex, and murder. They play a game as old as empire, but one that has taken on new and terrifying dimensions during this time of globalization.
I should know; I was an EHM.
I wrote that opening paragraph to Confessions of an Economic Hit Man as a description of my own profession. Since the bookâs fi rst publication in early
November 2004, I have heard TV, radio, and event hosts read those words many times as they introduced me to their audiences. The reality of EHMs shocked people in the United States and other countries. Many have told me that it convinced them to commit themselves to taking actions that will make this a better world.
The public interest aroused by Confessions was not a foregone conclusion. I spent a great deal of time working up the courage to try to publish it. Once I made the decision to do so, my attempts got off to a rocky start.
By late 2003, the manuscript had been circulated to many publishers and I had almost given up on ever seeing the book in print. Despite praising it as "riveting," "eloquently written," "an important expose," and "a story that must be told," publisher after publisher--twenty-five, in fact--rejected it. My literary agent and I concluded that it was just too anti-corporatocracy. (A word introduced to most readers in those pages, corporatocracy refers to the powerful group of people who run the worldâs biggest corporations, the most powerful governments, and historyâs fi rst truly global empire.) The major publishing houses, we concluded, were too intimidated by, or perhaps too beholden to, the corporate elite.
Eventually a courageous independent publisher, Berrett-Koehler, took the book on. Confessionsâ success among the public astounded me. During its first week in bookstores it went to number 4 on Amazon.com. Then it spent many weeks on every major bestseller list. In less than fourteen months, it had been translated into and published in twenty languages. A major Hollywood company purchased the option to film it. Penguin/Plume bought the paperback rights.
Despite all these successes, an important element was still missing. The major U.S. media refused to discuss Confessions or the fact that, because of it, terms such as EHM, corporatocracy, and jackal were now appearing on college syllabuses. The New York Times and other newspapers had to include it on their
bestseller lists after all, numbers don't lie (unless an EHM produces them, as
you will see in the following pages, but during its first fifteen months in print most of them obstinately declined to review it. Why?